If the first week is any indication, 2012 figures to be a banner year for UC Irvine athletics.
The Anteaters’ men’s and women’s basketball teams each swept their two-game conference sets against Pacific and UC Davis.
The No. 2-ranked UCI men’s volleyball team won four matches, the final three over then-No. 1-ranked BYU, No. 6 Long Beach State and No. 3-ranked UCLA, respectively, on its way to claiming the title of the UC Santa Barbara Invitational.
The impressive opening for Coach John Speraw’s Anteaters earned them the No. 1 national ranking in the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. poll released Monday. UCI will get to test its top ranking against No. 2-ranked BYU in back-to-back Mountain Pacific Sports Federation matches Friday and Saturday at the Bren Events Center. First serve for both is 7 p.m.
Sophomore outside hitter Jeremy Dejno earned tournament MVP honors in Santa Barbara, while senior opposite Carson Clark was another all-tournament honoree.
The Anteaters’ strong start has come without the services of highly touted transfer Kevin Tillie, who has been sidelined by an ankle injury. Tillie, who played for the French junior national team and was an All-Canadian selection at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada last season, could make his UCI debut against BYU.
As harbinger’s go, UCI last won the UCSB tournament in 2007, when it captured the first of the program’s two NCAA titles.
This year’s four-team NCAA men’s volleyball championship is May 3 and 5 at USC’s Galen Center.
With road wins over Pacific (Thursday) and UC Davis (Saturday), the UCI men’s basketball team posted its first road weekend sweep since 2006, when it won at UCSB and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Coach Russell Turner’s squad (6-10, 3-1 in conference), has earned all of its conference wins on the road after entering conference play winless in eight games away from the Bren Center.
Junior Mike Wilder was the catalyst last week, totaling 38 points in two games, netting a combined eight of 14 from three-point range. Wilder also had 10 rebounds to go with 18 points at Davis to post his fourth career double-double.
Wilder leads UCI in scoring (11.8 per game), followed by junior guard Daman Starring (11.6) and sophomore guard Chris McNealy. The aforementioned trio are all shooting better than 40% from three-point range. Starring is at 42.6% with 36 three balls. McNealy, who made five of six from threedom on Saturday, is shooting 41.3% from beyond the arc with 22 three-pointers. Wilder has 34 threes and is shooting 41.2% from distance.
UCI is shooting 37.4% from three-point range and only 40.5% overall.
Juniors Derick Flowers and Adam Folker are additional starters who have been contributing at a high level.
The ‘Eaters play host to Cal Poly on Thursday at 7 p.m., before venturing to Santa Barbara to battle the Gauchos on Saturday at 7 p.m.
UCI plays six of its next seven games at home, including five of its next six conference games..
Coach Molly Goodenbour’s UCI women’s basketball team topped Pacific and UC Davis last week to turn around what had been a five-game losing streak.
Junior guard Anete Klintsone had a breakthrough pair of performances to capture Big West Conference Player of the Week recognition.
Klintsone, a transfer from a community college in Missouri who is a native of Latvia, had a career-high 21 points in Thursday’s 77-75 overtime win over Pacific. She then produced a team-best 16 points in Saturday’s 60-54 triumph over UC Davis.
Klintsone upped her season scoring average to 8.9, which trails only senior guard Kassandra McCalister (10.6) and junior forward Jazmyne White (9.8).
White, whose six rebounds per contest lead the team, suffered a knee injury against Pacific. No MRI had been conducted as of Monday morning, but the way the leg buckled and her reaction upon hitting the floor has fostered more pessimism than optimism about the severity of the injury.
UCI (6-10, 2-2 in conference) enters this week in fifth place in the nine-team conference.
Another positive for the UCI women is the resurgence of sophomore Jacquelyn Marshall, who had her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds in only her second start of the season Saturday.
UCI is at UC Santa Barbara Thursday at 7 p.m., before visiting Cal Poly on Saturday at 4 p.m.
While UCI’s men’s basketball team is 3-0 in conference road games, four other Big West teams are unbeaten on the road in conference play thus far. Long Beach State and UC Riverside are both 2-0 away from home, while UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge had won their only conference road games.
Big West teams are, in fact, 9-5, thus far in conference play.
The UCI men’s basketball team, picked to finish last in the preseason conference media poll, enters the week in sole possession of third place, behind Long Beach State (3-0) and UCSB (2-0).
Alex Young, a 6-1 guard out of Phoenix High in Oregon and the lone early signee for the UCI men’s basketball team, is averaging 23.3 points and eight rebounds per game through 12 games this season. Young is shooting 53% from the field and 43% from three-point range to help his team post a 10-2 start.
The Major Soccer League’s Super Draft is Thursday and UC Irvine senior midfielder Miguel Ibarra is projected in one mock draft to go as high as No. 21.
Women’s Professional Soccer will hold its draft Friday. UCI senior defender CoCo Goodson is projected to be the No. 11 pick in one mock draft.
Camille Levin, a Newport Coast resident who helped Stanford win its first NCAA championship in 2011, is projected to be picked as high as No. 6.